Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The quality control problems continue

A tutor with an after school program here in LA brought in this one. I believe it was from an eighth-graders homework assignment.

He said the problems had seemed straightforward at first. Each had two sentences that described relationships between two numbers. He walked the student through the steps of translating each sentence into an equation then using substitution to get one equation with one variable.

 The trouble started when he looked at the instructions.

The tutor immediately saw two problems. For starters, the first step (converting each sentence to an equation), greatly confusing the student. Worse still, the answer in the example was simply wrong: the solution to 8n = 112 is n = 14, not n = 14 and 98. This is the sort of thing that you gently correct when a student does it, not the sort of thing that should slip past a professional proofreader.

Going by what I see working with that program (admittedly a small and unrepresentative sample), most handouts these days seem to come from large companies. Back in my teaching days, I almost always made up my own handouts. I can understand the potential advantages of using ready-made educational materials -- creating these things is a time-consuming job -- but what I can't understand is how the quality control can be this bad.

I've been over this before, but the list keeps getting longer.

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